One of the things I got in NY this fall was a Morehouse Merino Lace kit. The kit came with a huge 4 ounce skein of laceweight yarn and three patterns. The Contessa, La Scala and Stellina. It was a good deal and I can’t say enough nice things about the yarn. It’s so soft that it’s almost hypnotizing to hold. I find myself fondling the yarn and carrying it around like a pet, stroking it’s curved skein and smoothing the label. (I have stopped just short of naming it and giving it a bed to sleep in. Should I do so, you may feel free to cut me loose). When I was at Morehouse Merino I developed a new way of selecting yarn. I would look down, see what I was holding and then attempt to put it down. If, after several honest attempts to Put The Yarn On The Table, I was still incapable, then I took it as a sign. So it was that I came to own the lace kit. Not only that…but that is also why it looks like this.
That’s right. Variegated laceweight. I love these colours and was taken by the colourway name “saffron”. I was so helpless in the face of this yarn that I forgot several Things I Have Learned Before. It is both a shame and a pity that I can be so stunned by a snazzy colourway that I will forget these things and only remember them in crushing waves as I try to knit the stuff up.
-I cast on “La Scala” and knit a big chunk. The creeping dissatisfaction finally gave way to a repressed memory that I dislike variegated lace. There, I said it. I feel that the changing colours detract from the lacework, and that the lacework detracts from the shifting colours. (For the record, I feel exactly the same way about variegated Arans.) I know that I am in blogosphere minority with this. I can tell because of the immense and overwhelming popularity of Charlotte. I love the pattern, I love Koigu…but together it doesn’t suit me. I am convinced that the stunning colours of the variegates hide the clever and lovely lacework. I have tried hard to like it, be one of the crowd, to fit in with the other bloggers, but I can’t. This Charlotte secret has been burning in me for ages. I feel lighter now that I have told you.
(To redeem myself a little, I can point out that I quite like Amy’s version done in Fleece Artist Silken, but that was way more subtle. You know, like me.)
The chunk of shawl was unceremoniously frogged. The sad thing is that I held out hope for so long… look how much I knit before I accepted the truth.
– I decided that I should have gone with my rule about keeping variegates simple and I cast on Contessa. This was such a crushing disappointment that I didn’t even take a picture. The plain stockinette displayed the other challenge of variegates….I love how the colours look in the skein, but am chronically disappointed by the way that they look in the knitting. Pooling, flashing and puddling drive me wild and I end up with blotches of colour that change the whole colour balance of the variegation. The original yarn is subtle, shifting and beautiful. The knitting is not. Then I am sad. So sad that this shawl bit the big one too. (Again, a sizeable portion was knit before I was able to accept it’s destiny.)
– In desperation, (by the way? I would really rather not discuss why it was that I kept casting on the entire shawl, instead of a little swatch to see if I liked it. I blame Benylin All-in-one, a cold medication which in my case did not relieve my symptoms as much as it made me way too stoned to know if I had a cold. While this was an unexpected effect….who cares?) so in desperation, I decided to try Cell stitch.
Now, I can’t really explain what I was thinking here. I remember spending a lot of time making this choice, but it could be that I was just thinking really slowly. The problems with this shawl are myriad. For starters, I hate cell stitch. (I know. I’m telling you…Benylin all in one.) In addition, I think it’s too clunky for the delicate laceweight yarn, and it does nothing to prevent any of the puddling of the colours. I thought about knitting from two ends of the ball, alternating to avoid blotches, I thought about breaking the yarn from time to time and taking out a hunk to alter the rhythm of the dye job so it wouldn’t blotch. I thought about living with the blotchiness. In the end, this shawl was dumped faster than a boyfriend who wants nine children.
After much careful consideration (read: when the drugs wore off) I gave the dilemma some real thought. I considered choosing a stitch pattern that I liked and knitting the whole thing lengthways, hoping that casting on 300 stitches might displace the colours enough that it wouldn’t blotch. The problem with this idea is that the only way to test it was casting on 300 stitches and seeing what I thought. I thought about it, but decided that seemed, well…like maybe the drugs hadn’t worn off enough. I went looking for a little inspiration, and found it in this Shawls and Scarves
book. I chose the “Corner to Corner Shawl”.
It’s knit diagonally, which I have deluded myself into believing will help with the pooling and unsightly blotching (I’m still ill…let me believe), by providing longer rows and variable stitch counts. It has a simple lace insert that doesn’t lose anything to the variegation of the yarn, and the amount of lace on each row varies, which should mean that many of the rows use a different amount of yarn which in turn should also make a difference with the flashing colours.
Clearly the Benylin has worn off, since my ability to over-think, analyse and obsess about a simple knitted shawl has returned.